Eleven major foundations have pledged to spend a total of nearly $200 million for efforts to help boys and young men of color succeed, in concert with President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.
The foundations said in a 12-page executive summary to a still-unreleased report that the funds are to spent over the next three years – what they hope will be the “first steps in what will be longstanding commitments from these and other funders.”
Not all 11 foundations are helping fund all the efforts.
The biggest chunk of the funds, more than $81 million, is to go toward “comprehensive reforms needed to dramatically reduce racial and ethnic disparities in, and the overall use of, confinement for boys and young men,” the executive summary said.
“Reliance on the juvenile and criminal justice systems locks too many young men and boys of color out of opportunity before they fully have a chance to start on the path to adulthood.”
The executive summary provided little detail on specifically how the money is to be spent for that or other efforts.
The full report, “A Time for Action: Mobilizing Philanthropic Support for Boys and Young Men of Color,” is expected to be released this fall.
“The My Brother’s Keeper piece served as a catalyst for [the foundations’ funding commitment] … and sparked a new sense of urgency and focus for these foundations in ways that you probably wouldn’t have seen happen so quickly otherwise,” said Damon Hewitt, a senior adviser at the Open Society Foundations, one of the 11 philanthropic foundations.
“We’re all in conversation with each other, which is the really important piece … because I think this is so powerful,” Hewitt told Youth Today.
He said the foundations had been working on some of the initiatives to help boys and young men of color for more than a year before the White House announced My Brother’s Keeper.
“The beauty of what the White House has done [through My Brother’s Keeper] is it helped the stars align and make some big things possible by focusing energies and commitments,” Hewitt said.
A White House task force on My Brother’s Keeper released a report on the initiative to Obama on May 30.
At the time, the 11 philanthropies released a joint statement saying, in part, “The report’s emphasis on early childhood support, improving literacy, creating greater pathways to college and career success, and reducing unnecessary involvement with the justice system are all key factors toward improving the lives of boys and young men of color.”
The statement noted the 11 foundations joined forces in February to provide a private-sector counterpart to the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
“Our commitment to fundamentally improving the life trajectory of young men of color is unwavering, and it is essential to build on this momentum to improve the policies and structures that currently impede the ability of many young men to participate fully in American society,” the statement said.
The foundations’ executive summary also outlined other funding:
- More than $55 million will to go toward “an unprecedented partnership to accelerate efforts to reduce suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests and juvenile court referrals in our nation’s elementary and secondary public schools and pre-school settings.” Among other things, this funding is designed to spur further efforts by the public and private sectors to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.
- More than $26 million is to be spent on efforts to help supplant negative portrayals of boys and young men of color with positive ones in print, broadcast and social media. These funds are meant to “lift up positive narratives that affirm the value of all human beings, including boys and men of color, and to minimize the effect of implicit bias.”
- More than $21 million is intended to “catalyze matching funds from other national and community foundations, corporations, and public/private partnerships to build on existing local efforts and infrastructure that offer promise of success … to help communities develop and/or expand strategies explicitly aimed at reducing disparities and improving life outcomes for boys and young men of color.”
- A seed investment of more than $11 million is to spin off the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, now part of the Open Society Foundations, as an independent entity.
Along with the Open Society Foundations, the other philanthropies that have contributed to the funding are the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, the Ford Foundation, the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.